Guide to Irrigation Methods Helpful for Indian Farmers
India has about 140 million hectares of net cultivated area, out of which merely 45% is irrigated. Currently, 9 million hectare is under micro-irrigation, in which drip irrigated area is 4 million hectare.
For the plant growth adequate supply of water is extremely important. Irrigation is the only way our farmers can continue to store and use water appropriately. Not only this, with proper irrigation facilities our farmers would be able to spend less time on the fields and more time in learning new skills, personal development, and in on agricultural forums.
The primary points that need to be considered while planning for irrigation are:
- Land suitability
- Effective rainfall
- Decide when to irrigate (this depends on the soil, crop, and climatic condition)
- How much water is required by the crop
- Select the most suitable method to irrigate
- Quality of the irrigated water
Five highly effective methods of irrigation:
- Sprinkler irrigation
- Drip irrigation
- Surface irrigation
- Basin irrigation
- Furrow irrigation
1. Sprinkler irrigation
- Sprinkler irrigation is similar to rainfall.
- In this type, water is pumped using a pipe system and then sprayed through sprinkler heads.
- With Sprinkler Irrigation field areas irrespective of their sizes can be covered efficiently.
- This irrigation method can be applied to all the types of soils since sprinklers with different discharge and outlet capacities are available on the market.
2. Drip irrigation
- Drip irrigation can be defined as the method in which water drips slowly via a pipe system to the roots of the plants either from above or below the soil surface.
- It is also known as micro-irrigation by which both water and soil nutrients can be saved.
- A set up of valves, tubes, pipes, and emitters is used for drip irrigation.
- The best part about drip irrigation is that valves and pumps can be operated both manually and automatically with the help of a controller.
3. Surface Irrigation
- Surface irrigation has been practiced and followed for many years now.
- It can be defined as a group of techniques where water is distributed over the surface of the soil gravity.
- In this type of irrigation, either the field is flooded (this is known as Basin Irrigation) or the water is fed into small channels (this is known as furrow irrigation).
4. Basin Irrigation
- Basin Irrigation method is primarily used for crops that stand in water for more extended periods, flat lands where rice is grown or in terraces on hillsides.
- In Basin Irrigation flat areas of land are surrounded by low bunds. These bunds block the water and prevent it from entering the adjacent fields.
- Trees can also be grown using basin irrigation method.
- Basin irrigation is suitable pastures, citrus, banana and to some extent tobacco.
- This method cannot be used for crops that cannot stand waterlogged like potatoes, beetroot and carrots
- The type of crop grown determines the soil suitable for basin irrigation
- Basin irrigation can be constructed on a flat surface, the easier it is to build basins, sloping land.
- Level basins, called terraces, can be constructed on steps of a staircase.
5. Furrow irrigation
- The application in which small channels carry water in between the crop rows and down the slope is known as Furrow irrigation.
- Furrow irrigation is preferable to row crops and the ones that cannot thrive waterlogging.
- Only maize, sunflower, sugarcane, and soyabean can be irrigated via furrow irrigation.
- While Tomatoes, Potatoes, Beans, Citrus and Grape would be damages if grown with Furrow Irrigation.
- In this particular method of irrigation water flows from the field channel into the furrows by opening up the bank of the channel or by siphons or spiles.
- Furrows must determine the slope, type of soil, size of the stream, irrigation depth, and field length.
- It should be done on flat or gentle slopes; if done on undulating land, furrow irrigation should follow the land contouring method.
Reference: Farmer’s Handbook on Basic Agriculture